The conduct during the war and exile and the affection and loyalty of Rafael Alberti in his last 10 years of life are two topics of contention that appear and disappear from public discussion periodically. This fall, the poet’s case has been reopened with the publication of My life with Alberti (Almuzara, 2023), the book in which Maria Asuncion Mateo chronicles their nine years of marriage, between 1990 and 1999. Last week, the supplement Babelia From the newspaper The country He published a review of the work, signed by Anna Caballé, biographer of Francisco Umbral, Carmen Laforet and Concepción Arenal, among other books, and winner of the National History Prize. The review was laudatory and made amends to Mateo, who was debased during her years with Alberti and after his death by former friends of the poet who censored her marriage, lost her privacy or part of it during that decade and, after her death, They criticized the management of Alberti’s legacy.
“For many years I have been insulted by Alberti’s ’emeritus widowers’,” Mateo said in an interview published by EL MUNDO in the publication of his story. And then he identified those widowers: “Luis García Montero, director of the Cervantes Institute, Benjamín Prado, Eduardo Medicutti and Luis Muñoz, among others. […]. The madness reached the point of divulging that, when Rafael died, I received an inheritance of 3,000 million pesetaswhen the truth is that there was hardly any money in the bank.
There was a response and early. Caballé’s review appeared on Saturday, October 21. On Tuesday the 24th, Luis García Montero published an article titled Manipulated feminism, also in The country. “None of those attacked have needed to respond, because everyone who lived and knew the matter knows very well who she is“, writes García Montero in his first paragraph. The Granada poet, director of the Cervantes Institute, says of Mateo that he is “a character who denies himself” and lists his main complaints against her.
The first: even during the poet’s lifetime, his wife “privatised” the foundation that bears his name and negligently managed his legacy or perhaps something worse, according to García Montero: “The trustees of the Foundation We didn’t want to get into a debate with old Alberti, we let his new wife take the manuscripts and Picassos and we dissolved the Foundation.” The second complaint: Mateo conspired to have the poet eliminate from his memoirs, The lost grove, mentions of friends who were not favorable to him, according to a testimony from editor Mario Muchnik. In a text from 2010, Benjamín Prado already made public the list of those eliminated: “Luis García Montero and I we have been crossed outalso Teresa Alberti, sometimes her daughter Aitana, and in this case new enemies-consort like Almudena Grandes or Pedro Guerra.”
And the third reproach: Mateo would have handed over the memory management to Gonzalo Santonja, a former member of the PCE (Santonja met Alberti through the party) who would have allowed the Popular Party to symbolically appropriate the poet’s name with a visit from José Maria Aznar. “Santonja’s run to the right [va]nothing less than from ETA to Vox”, writes García Montero. Santonja’s name illustrates the thesis of the Granada poet, who relates that Caballé’s criticism with the extreme right that “perverts the values of feminism and the fight in favor of equality at the expense of manipulating events that ridicule a just and proper cause of the progressive mentality”.